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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 27 July 2021

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Questions (2782)

Fergus O'Dowd


2782. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health his views on and if he will respond to proposals raised in correspondence by a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39154/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented challenge across our health services and none more so than in our nursing homes. The pandemic has been a hugely difficult time for all residents, relatives, and staff of nursing homes. While it is undoubtedly important that we learn from our responses to the pandemic, it must be recognised that the pandemic has not concluded. At this time, a priority focus of Government remains the ongoing management of the COVID-19 response.

Although significant progress has been made in relation to the roll-out of the vaccination programme and the current situation in nursing homes is broadly stable, the prevalence of the more transmissible Delta variant is rapidly increasing in Ireland. This poses a significant risk, particularly to those who are not yet fully protected though vaccination, which must be managed.

It is also important to recognise that learning from the early stages of the pandemic has been integral to the Government’s responses as the pandemic has progressed. The COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel considered lessons learned from the initial wave of the pandemic in developing recommendations that focus on immediate, short-term actions required for the response to COVID-19 as well as on long-term actions required to effect the strategic reform of nursing home systems, operation, policy, and legislation.

Continuing the approach of the Expert Panel, the HSE will undertake a detailed analysis of the management and outcomes that occurred during COVID-19 pandemic, with lessons for causal factors and preparedness for infection prevention and control, in line with recommendation theme 6 of the Expert Panel’s report.

The blend of operational data from the frontline, voluntary surveys’ findings and key stakeholder feedback also continuously provide insight into the current status of the nursing home sector's response to COVID-19.

The ongoing learning from the pandemic, including consideration of new evidence and information that emerges nationally and internationally, is critical to the Government’s continued response to the pandemic as it evolves.

I wish to advise that a reply will issue to the correspondence referred to by the Deputy in due course.